Japanese artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV pushes the boundaries of bamboo art. He dramatically breaks the scale that we expect of the medium with soaring, twisting forms that stretch from floor to ceiling. His dramatic, immersive environments evoke the bamboo forests where these works began their lives.
The fourth generation of a renowned family of Japanese bamboo artists, Tanabe Takeo (b. 1973) learned the techniques of bamboo weaving from his father and grandfather and the spirit of his art from his mother. He was bestowed with the artist name Chikuunsai, meaning “master of the bamboo clouds,” in 2017.
His artistic process begins when he selects and harvests the finest examples of tiger bamboo, which grows only in the mountains of Kochi prefecture. He then bends and plaits the bamboo into towering installations, later dismantling the works and carefully cleaning the bamboo strips. Finally, he recycles the bamboo into a new sculpture.
In May, Chikuunsai IV and three apprentices will transform the museum’s Lee Gallery with a site-specific installation using bamboo previously used in works in Paris, New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil.